Tasmanian draft conversion therapy bill

The Tasmanian government has drafted a new Bill to outlaw supposed “conversion therapy” practices. The details are as clear as mud.

What exactly is “conversion therapy?”

No one seems to know and no specific detail is included in this Bill. It appears to have a make-it-up-as-you-go-along kind of vibe. There is not one example of what such a practice would look like.

There is no specific mention of what the so-called harmful ‘conversion therapy’ practices include other than to state: “A person must not carry out a conversion practice that causes physical or mental harm to the recipient of that conversion practice.”

There are already laws in place regarding physical harm to anyone, regardless of whether or not it is labelled ‘conversion therapy.’ Assault or causing physical harm is already against the law.

Who determines what constitutes mental “harm?” Are hurt feelings or disagreements included? It is a very subjective idea. Will encouraging someone to embrace their biological reality result in mental harm? 

Similar laws in Victoria and the ACT conflate sexual orientation and sexual identities. Orientation relies on biological reality, whereas identities deny biological reality. They are not even remotely the same thing. Lumping them together is ridiculous and harmful. The Tasmanian Bill does the same thing.

The draft doesn’t go far enough according to some gender activists. 

At this stage it is not as extreme as the Victorian or ACT counterparts which attempt to outlaw prayer and parental advice. Those jurisdictions also forbid practitioners from ‘watchful waiting’ practices and only allow ‘affirmation’ pathways.

The Bill provides:

For the purposes of this Division, conversion practice does not include a practice by a health service provider that, in the provider’s reasonable judgment –

  • is part of the clinically appropriate assessment, diagnosis or treatment of a person, or clinically appropriate support for a person; or
  • enables or facilitates the provision of a health service for a person in a manner that is safe and appropriate; or is necessary to comply with the provider’s legal or professional obligations

Unlike other jurisdictions there is a paragraph that makes it clear that parents can express opinions, pray or advise against ‘affirmation’ only pathways.

For the avoidance of doubt, a practice that amounts to no more than the expression of an opinion, idea or belief by a person, including a statement of religious principle or the provision of parental guidance, is not a conversion practice for the purposes of this Division.

Submissions are open until February as a part of the public consultation processes. I strongly encourage you to have your say.